The 2019-20 NBA season is set to continue on Thursday when the teams inside the bubble in Orlando will get back to action. It’s going to be a wild ride through the playoffs and championship as teams aim to avoid the pandemic and play out the games on a neutral site. With that in mind, let’s take one last look at the NBA championship futures before the season gets back in action.
The Los Angeles Lakers (+200), Milwaukee Bucks (+280) and Los Angeles Clippers (+300) are favored to win the championship. Those are the only three teams inside of 12/1 as everyone else is at +1200 or longer.
The Lakers have some issues to deal with as guard Avery Bradley has opted out of the season while point guard Rajon Rondo is out for another four-to-six weeks with a thumb injury. The team did sign J.R. Smith to replace Bradley but losing two key cogs at this point in the season could hurt. Meanwhile, the Clippers seem to have benefited greatly from the hiatus. Paul George, who had nagging injuries, looks fresh as ever and the team – overall – has tons of depth.
As for the Bucks, they’re the favorite in the Eastern Conference. They are currently 53-12 on the season and 34-5 against Eastern Conference foes. However, they will miss home-court advantage as they were 28-3 at home this season.
The Celtics have had an up-and-down season as they started the year 17-5 and were 25-8 through 33 games. However, they entered the hiatus on a 18-13 stretch, including losing four of their final six, so we’ll have to see what they look like when they get back. The Raptors were a bit of a similar story as they were an incredible 40-14 through February 10th. However, they were just 6-4 in their final 10 games, so we’ll have to see if they can regain their momentum.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are as talented as anyone as they have James Harden and Russell Westbrook. They had been playing without Eric Gordon before the pause but he’s now back at full strength. They have plenty of shooting – including sharpshooter Robert Covington and Ben McLemore – but we’ll have to see if their version of small ball will work. The Rockets have been really streaky this season and were just 29-21 in their final 50 games.
Looking further down the board, the Philadelphia 76ers (+2000) are an intriguing team. They have plenty of talent but remember that they were a league-best 29-2 at home but were a paltry 10-24 on the road. No team that’s in the bubble had less road wins than the 76ers. We’ll see if that home-away discrepancy is a big factor for them.
The Denver Nuggets (+3000), the Dallas Mavericks (+4000) and the Miami Heat (+4000) are the only other teams inside of 50/1 on the top sportsbooks' boards.